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Generations of activists on panel discuss racism

Darryl Murphy

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The African American Museum in Center City hosted a panel of Black activists from different generations in January to discuss the past, present, and future of Black activism in the fight against racism.

Talk radio station WURD-AM (900) aired the discussion, which was moderated by Solomon Jones, an award-winning journalist and the host of Wake Up with WURD. The panel of guests included noted historian and author Charles L. Blockson; renowned poet and activist Sonia Sanchez; journalist and Temple professor Linn Washington; Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif; Black and Brown Workers Collective creator Shani Akilah; and Village of Arts and Humanities youth arts education program manager Michael O’Bryan.

Panelists offered insightful critiques of the history of racial activism and strategies for current times. Topics such as the election of Donald Trump, employment inequality, the myth of Black-on-Black crime, and the meaning of intersectionality — the idea of simultaneously living under multiple systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, etc. — were addressed.

Sanchez, a professor emeritus at Temple University, also offered her thoughts about education.

“We have got to get the parents to come back to the schools and begin to help organize the children,” Sanchez said.

“We’ve got to make the children seditious when it comes to education. … You must learn very much how to come together in the classroom to make the teachers teach you.”

Jones said the panel is just the beginning of this conversation about race.

“Generations Speak was the first step in an ongoing effort to bring together generations who’ve fought or are fighting similar battles around the issue of racism,” he said.

“We’re planning a series of events, because while the first one began the process, building the intergenerational unity we’ll need in order to move forward will take more than a single day.”

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